The coming-of-age story of 20th century icon Billy Graham will be seen on the big screen this fall through the release of the film Billy: The Early Years. This highly anticipated film will be released theatrically on October 10, 2008 across the country.
Billy: The Early Years captures the true essence of Graham’s life’s journey from an earnest young man at the crossroads of faith and doubt, to ultimately facing the moment of decision that launched one of history's most influential evangelists. Starting out with the tranquility of the Graham dairy farm in North Carolina, Billy: The Early Years depicts the look and feel of the Depression-era as we accompany Graham to the tent revival where he finally heeds the altar call, and follows him through the struggle of doubt and resolution of the next decade of his life.
The film paints a vivid portrait of Graham against the backdrop of his relationship with the evangelical star of the 1940’s, Charles Templeton, a gifted young preacher whose faith would not withstand the onslaught of scientific skepticism. Templeton and Graham eventually part ways, and in the film, Templeton comes to personify the rising tide of disbelief into which Graham launched his crusades. The movie’s power lies in it’s honest portrayal of Graham’s struggle with the ideas represented in Templeton’s eventual unbelief and shows how Graham’s faith, so compellingly represented in the film, goes on to change the face of modern evangelism in the second half of the 20th Century.
Graham is portrayed in the film by rising young star, Armie Hammer (Veronica Mars, Flicka), who was announced as the upcoming Batman/Bruce Wayne in the new film, Justice League: Mortal. Hammer plays an incredibly authentic and poignant Graham, and takes the viewer deep into the heart of this iconic world-renowned yet humble figure.
Directed by veteran Actor/Director and Golden Globe nominee, Robby Benson (the voice of the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Ode To Billy Joe, Ice Castles, The Greatest Story Ever Told), the Billy: The Early Years’ cast includes well-known Hollywood talent including Oscar-winner Martin Landau (Mission: Impossible, Ed Wood) and Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman); as well as Stefanie Butler (CSI: NY), daughter of ex-Atlanta Brave Brett Butler; Kristoffer Polaha (North Shore) and platinum selling country sensation Josh Turner (“Long Black Train”) as singer George Beverly Shea. John Carter Cash, son of John and June Carter Cash, serves as music producer.
Together with Rocky Mountain Pictures, In Service America, Interlinc and other additional marketing partners, the Billy: The Early Years marketing plan will seek to create significant grassroots traction while radio, television and newspaper advertising and promotions will work in conjunction with additional aspects of the campaign. The film launch will also encompass a number of strategic marketing elements, including more than 50 VIP screenings in key markets, a soundtrack highlighting Christian and country music artists, key events built around Graham’s 90th birthday, a novel of the work published by Thomas Nelson Publishers and an upcoming home entertainment DVD release.
Nashville based Landis Entertainment & Media Partners, run by Barry Landis, will spearhead all marketing aspects of the film, in association with the distributor Solex/MATP. Landis, a long time entertainment marketer of faith-based properties for major, high level entertainment and corporate conglomerates such as Wrigley’s and AT&T was also the head of companies such as Atlantic Records, Warner Bros. and KOCH Records Christian divisions, has made a solid mark on the entertainment world through his visionary accomplishments and multiple career achievements.
Producers Larry Mortorff and Martin Shiel commented, “We are extremely excited to be surrounded with such an amazing team and have tremendous confidence in their ability to market this distinguished and touching new film.” Producer Bill McKay said, “Barry Landis is a blend of an entertainment strategist as well as a great wrangler and distiller of the group’s ideas.”
Filmed in and around Nashville, Tennessee with a 90% Tennessee crew, Billy: The Early Years made perfect use of the new incentive plan from the state of Tennessee that grants up to a 32% cash rebate. "This particular film is definitely in Tennessee's 'sweet spot',” said Perry Gibson, executive director of the Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission. “We love the subject matter and were bowled over at how the producers put together such a talented Tennessee cast and crew, as well as garnered some the top names in the Nashville music industry. We’d welcome them back anytime, they were really terrific."
For more information about the film, please visit www.billytheearlyyears.com.
Click here to watch the trailer (Quicktime download).
SYNOPSIS: Billy Graham is one of the most influential figures of all time. He has spoken to over 2 billion people in person and through TV and radio in the past 90 years. He counseled nine United States Presidents. His messages have changed the face of modern religion. In BILLY, the unforgettable newcomer Armie Hammer portrays Billy Graham as a young man making a choice
between science and religion, family and friendships, and his desire to pursue a career in evangelism, breaking away from his family’s dairy-farming roots in rural Tennessee. BILLY is narrated by Graham’s lifelong friend and childhood rival Charles Templeton (Academy Award® Winner Martin Landau), a man who chose a path of science in his quest to educate the masses. Set against the 1940’s Depression Era, BILLY paints an old-fashioned, charismatic portrait of a man who took the world by storm as an adult, but who never revealed much about his upbringing…until now.